Divers re-enter cave as Thai rescue restarts

Larry Hoffman
July 11, 2018

It was not clear Monday morning whether divers had reentered the huge Tham Luang cave complex where the remaining nine people have been trapped for more than two weeks.

As monsoon rains threaten to fill the cave with more water, diving crews are racing against to clock to deliver the last five boys and their coach from the cave system.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha paid a visit to all the rescue teams on Monday before leaving to see the evacuees at the hospital in the city centre.

The group went into the Tham Luang cave more than two weeks ago.

The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday in an urgent and risky operation that involved them diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages were happy and in good health, authorities said.

Extracting everyone from the cave could take up four days, but Sunday's success raised hopes that could be done. Officials feared that an incoming storm could send water flooding back into the cave and make an escape even more hard for the boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach.

He was reportedly among the first extracted because he was in the worst conditions because he had given the boys his share of the group's meagre food supply before they were found.

Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover around a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018, as rescue operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest.

Dr. Harris on Saturday undertook the unsafe dive to reach the 12 Thai boys and their coach and later gave the final approval on the boys' health, clearing the way for the rescue attempt which commenced yesterday and succeed in bringing out four of the survivors, the paper reported.

The rescue of the remaining boys and their football coach is being carried out by trained divers who are helping them through the flooded cave network.

Medical staff involved in the rescue mission told Reuters their first assessments when the boys arrive at the hospital will focus on their breathing, signs of hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as "cave disease" which is caused by bat and bird droppings and can be fatal if untreated and allowed to spread to other parts of the body.

The journey had taken as long as five hours from the part of the cave where the boys are to the exit when the water level was high and the current was strong, but that was down to around 2 ½ hours by Sunday, Karadzic said.

The Thai Navy Seals said in a Facebook post just before 10pm yesterday, "Tonight, we can sleep well", as the Day 1 rescue operation came to a close.

The rescue team is scrambling to extract all of those stranded before fresh rains complicate the task or cut off access by increasing flooding in the cave. "We heard four boys are out but we do not know who they are". The death Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL underscored the risks. This would mean at least two more operations.

Late Sunday, nine hours after they entered the cave, elite divers emerged carrying four of the teenage boys who were quickly transferred to waiting ambulances.

Relatives said the boys had been inside the labyrinthine complex during the dry season.

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